Some memories have crystallized over time, while others drifted away with the wind. My mother remembers one part, my sister another. I suspect each story contains morsels of truth.
It was 1963 when the news broke. I was at Homer Street School; an ancient Federal style brick building that contains many second grade memories. Being the teacher’s pet, my silver metal desk with the hinged wood top was front row and center. I remember this day well because the Audio Visual man rolled in a tall cart and stopped directly in front of my desk. Everyone was scurrying about trying to get the bulky box set in place so we could watch the news. Children from the other grades crammed into our classroom as well. Finally the wavy lines ceased and the news appeared on the black and white screen. The stereophonic sound echoed off the old plastered walls as the announcer’s words filled the room.
I didn’t really know what was going on as I stared at the screen with all the other children. Right in front of my eyes was a moving picture of President Kennedy riding in the back of a long black Lincoln convertible. One minute he was waving to the crowds that lined the parade route, and suddenly he was slumped over, shot dead, with his wife frantically trying to revive him.
Not a single person in our classroom room moved. The atmosphere room was thick and tense as the coal heat permeated the air. I remember our teacher, a very kind Negro woman, (that’s what we called her) opening the tall classroom window, hoping that the terrible news would dissipate into the cool November air. The tragic news was bewildering to me as the announcer replayed the killing over and again, as if in disbelief.
Finally there was a break in the stillness as we heard the loud, commanding voice of the school principal bellowing through the loud speaker. “President Kennedy has been shot. Our school is now closed and all students are ordered to go home.”
I removed my personal pencil kit from the desk and wrapped myself with my coat. I remember running home with my knees exposed to the cold, grey day. I had to stop a couple of times to pull up my knee socks, which always landed around my ankles when I ran. I was only six, but I sensed that this news was very important to the adults; teachers were crying and everywhere you looked people were discussing the tragic event.
I remember running up the stairs to our second floor flat. Back then no one questioned whether or not your parents would be waiting at home. As I flung open the door I shouted, “George Washington was killed” to my mother and sister. After some explanation, I began to understand a little about Presidents, murder and funerals. This story filled the home and television of most Americans for days.
Several days passed days before I put on a plaid dress and headed back to school where the American flag stood at half-mast and would remain so for a very long time.
Please share your memories below..Thank you.
“This is a blog hop. The women of Midlife Boulevard are sharing their thoughts about and memories of the assassination of President Kennedy on this 50th anniversary of that sad day.”